Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Dozen (or so) Random Thoughts About The 2016 Election

I've read tons of stuff in the past 12 or so hours, from respected intellectuals, Nobel laureates, and Facebook friends.  My mind swims from all the emotions, from denial and anger, to depression and bargaining, to acceptance and determination.  I just wanted to put down some of the many things that moved me, either positively or negatively.

1) Andrew Sullivan writes in New York magazine: The Republic Repeals Itself. I always find nuggets of truth in Andrew's sage writing.  Here's one:
This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image. He has humiliated the elites and the elite media. He has embarrassed every pollster and naysayer. He has avenged Obama. And in the coming weeks, Trump will not likely be content to bask in vindication. He will seek unforgiving revenge on those who dared to oppose him. The party apparatus will be remade in his image. The House and Senate will fail to resist anything he proposes — and those who speak up will be primaried into oblivion. The Supreme Court may well be shifted to the far right for more than a generation to come — with this massive victory, he can pick a new Supreme Court justice who will make Antonin Scalia seem like a milquetoast. He will have a docile, fawning Congress for at least four years. We will not have an administration so much as a court.
While a bit melodramatic, he's not wrong.  At all. This terrifies me.

2) Paul Krugman goes over the top, in my opinion:
I don’t know how we go forward from here. Is America a failed state and society? It looks truly possible.  
3) My friend, screenwriter Lyle Weldon, wrote beautifully on Facebook:

Before we went to sleep -- before the race was officially over -- I kissed my daughters goodnight and told them that no matter the outcome, we'd continue to live as we'd always done, that we'd treat all people equally, be respectful of those we disagreed with and love and love and love.
Waking now in the middle of the night to learn the truth of this unbelievable election, it's the darkest, most scared I've felt since September 11th, 2001. The world changed that day yet we managed to move forward in a positive way. We'll do the same now. We have to. My children and their children deserve a future better than our past, brighter than our present.
I'll follow my own advice and hope that every one of us does the same. Hatred and fear will not swallow our world. We have our morals, we have our faith and we have each other. Love and love and love.  

4) On Huffington Post, Ali Michael advises us how to teach our children about this horrible nightmare:
Tell them ... you will honor the outcome of the election, but that you will fight bigotry. Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school. Tell them you stand by your Muslim families. Your same-sex parent families. Your gay students. Your Black families. Your female students. Your Mexican families. Your disabled students. Your immigrant families. Your trans students. Your Native students. Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first. Say that you will stand united as a school community, and that you will protect one another. Say that silence is dangerous, and teach them how to speak up when something is wrong. Then teach them how to speak up, how to love one another, how to understand each other, how to solve conflicts, how to live with diverse and sometimes conflicting ideologies, and give them the skills to enter a world that doesn’t know how to do this. 

5) Esquire's Charlie Pierce on how Trump took ownership of the GOP:
It has been said that Trump hijacked the Republican Party. This is said by Republicans who still wish in their timid dreams that Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio had been strapped into the machine for another safe run on the same old track. That is not entirely true. He didn't hijack the machine. He just turned it into a high-performance vehicle. Trump's visceral appeal—the sexism, the racism, the xenophobia, the crude stupidity and know-nothingism, the appeals to a lost America, to people who most deeply felt its loss, none of whom was him—was merely fuel of higher octane than anyone had dared put into the machine before. He poured it in by the gallon, disengaged the emergency brake, mashed the accelerator to the floorboard and was off. 

6) Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg expresses hope:
The presidency is the single most powerful position in the American government. But there's little he can do by himself. Will Republicans -- in Congress, in the executive-branch departments and agencies, even in the White House -- have the backbone to stand up to him?
I hope we never have to find out. I hope Trump's scarier talk turns out to be mostly bluster, and he'll be satisfied to strut around a little and otherwise stick to the norms and traditions of the republic. If there's one positive sign to cling to, it was his selection of a mainstream conservative governor as his running mate. Yes, Mike Pence is very conservative, but he is not one of Trump's more bombastic or irresponsible supporters.  
Don't count on it, Jonathan.

Here's what I am gloomy about:

7) Trump won over Clinton. Bigotry, racism, white nationalism, sexism and misogyny won over tolerance; Fear of and ignorance about the Other won over understanding; shooting unarmed black men and women and children won over deescalation and cooperation; ISIS recruitment won over persistent and deadly dismantling; Russian spying won over national security; religious fundamentalism and superstition won over reason and science; retreat won over progress; endless war and torture won over peace and basic human rights; lies won over truth; propaganda won over carefully-researched factual reporting; protectionism and isolationism won over globalism; voter suppression won over an unfettered voter franchise; darkness won over light.

8) I can, very reluctantly, forgive whatever financial bullshit Donald Trump and his wrecking crew try to perpetrate.  He'll try to dismantle Dodd/Frank and the CFPB.  He'll try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He'll try to cut taxes for the wealthy and widen the income and wealth inequality gap on the backs of middle and working class Americans.  He'll try to rip up NAFTA and other trade agreements and implement protectionist trade policies that will cost more jobs than they create.  It will be a disaster, to be sure. From my own personal financial history, however, as well as from what I've observed as a front-line financial services professional for over 31 years, I know that this is all just money in the end. Money is in inexhaustible supply; there will always be money. And like Bill Clinton largely undid Reagan's and Bush 41's financial messes (while creating some of his own), and like Obama largely undid Bush 43's financial messes (while creating some of his own too), we will be able to undo nearly any financial mess that Trump creates. So if you voted for Trump for any of these reasons, I can and do forgive you.  In an objective way, it's business, not personal.

9) If, however, you voted for Trump because you want to see him invalidate millions of same-sex marriages and tear their families apart, or you want to see him invade and further limit or invalidate womens' private reproductive choices and endanger millions of lives, or you want to see him send thousands of men and women back onto the battlefield to be killed and re-implement the heinous and illegal torture regime of Bush/Cheney, or you want to see him lay waste to Obama's progress on climate change and further despoil our beautiful planet, or you want to see him implement a religious test for entry into the United States (or worse, for public office), or you want to see him round up and deport millions of undocumented immigrants with or without children born in the US and separating and/or destroying millions of families in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, or you want to see him make hate and revenge a part of public policy, then you're getting personal and destroying lives for nothing more than a difference of opinion.  I won't say that makes you a deplorable person, but I will say that you're supporting deplorable actions.

10) There are those who say that in time things will get better. Perhaps.  I'm an optimist by nature, and it's really a challenge for me to stay gloomy for very long.  But having lived through eight years of Bush and Cheney, watching what endless war, torture, and warrantless wiretapping and surveillance have done to our national psyche, and believing today with all of my heart that Trump is worse than Bush in that he lacks any kind of moral compass, and believing that the Republican majorities in the House and Senate will not be able to stop or even temper his march toward neofascism any more than the 16 more qualified presidential candidates and the gutless Speaker of the House could, it is extremely hard for me to believe that things will get better.  (See below for how I think they can get better.)

11) To those who voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (who my friend calls Tofu Palin and Gomer Aleppo) or wrote in another name or simply abstained from voting -- including those of you who believed Bernie Sanders, had he been nominated, been the president-elect -- you bear a fair amount of blame for this outcome.  The talk was that Hillary Clinton was too weak a candidate to beat Trump. But the truth is, Bernie was incredibly weak as a candidate.  Had he been nominated, the formidable right wing propaganda machine would have eviscerated him.  He might not have had the email baggage, but every fucking one of us has seen first-hand how effective it can be to keep repeating a lie until it becomes the truth.  By slamming Hillary Clinton with the email story, you actually aid in perpetuating that huge nothing-burger. All the corporate media had to do -- after essentially ignoring him during the primaries -- was call him a socialist enough times, and he'd have been toast. No amount of factual truths -- not even Kurt Eichenwald's exhaustively investigated 129 verifiable facts about Donald Trump and his lies that would have disqualified any other candidate -- could overcome that massive wood chipper of a media-entertainment industrial complex.  Hillary Clinton reportedly received nearly 90% of the African-American vote; I don't believe Bernie would have done nearly that well.

12) To any and all Republicans, you wanted all the reins of government.  The White House, the Capitol, and the Supreme Court.  You have them now.  Give it your best shot.  Work with me, and I'll work with you.  Just know that a) the rest of us will fight you when you reach too far, and b) we will also do everything we can to defeat you at every turn because we know you'll get too drunk on all that power.  But one thing is for sure:  you can't blame anyone else but yourselves if and when things blow up.  You hold nearly all of the cards now.  If there's a terrorist act, it's on you.  If we run up new debts, it's on you. If tax revenue hits the skids, it's on you. If people die because they can't get adequate healthcare absent the ACA, it's on you.  No more blaming Democrats, and no more blaming the media, who will now act like quiet little lapdogs in exchange for access to your power.

I'm not gloomy about this:

13) Looking at this map, it shows that had only Millenials 18-25 voted in this election, Trump would have lost 43 states.  This is a bright flame of hope for me.  Those of the "Greatest Generation" and Baby Boom Generation and Generation X have truly done enough damage to this country, and it's time for young, fresh thinking.  I've never met more intelligent or more connected folks than the Millenials.  Accordingly, I desire that Trump be the last American born before 1975 to be elected president.  My son Max will be able to vote in 2020.  So will his cousin, Ben, and his friends, Josh, Oliver, Neil, Caitlin, Thomas, Jack, Julian, Adam, Maya, Brandon, and Austin.  You can bet I'll be teaching Max to defend humanity and live by a code of honor, and to fight injustice and not remain silent, to use his voice and his vote to turn back Trump in his reelection bid.  If any of you have children who will be casting their first presidential votes in 2020, I implore you to do the same.  We don't have to agree on everything.  In fact, we really only have to agree on one basic thing: that Donald J. Trump must never again be elected president.

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